Disney has chosen acclaimed Barry Jenkins, the director and co-writer of 2017 Oscar-winning Best Picture Moonlight, as the man to take control of the sequel to their monster 2019 success, The Lion King.
Jenkins, who also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, has been entrusted with the follow-up to Jon Favreau's movie, which has grossed $1.6 billion (£1.25 billion) worldwide, and inspired Beyoncé's hugely successful African odyssey Black is King for Disney+.
The storyline has not been publicised, but Deadline reports that the narrative could have parallels to The Godfather: Part II, in the sense that it will further explore the mythology of the characters, including Mufasa’s origin story, so will move the story forward while also looking back.
Jenkins said in a statement: “Helping my sister raise two young boys during the '90s, I grew up with these characters. Having the opportunity to work with Disney on expanding this magnificent tale of friendship, love and legacy while furthering my work chronicling the lives and souls of folk within the African diaspora is a dream come true."
The Lion King sequel will be Jenkins' second film for Disney: he is planning to direct a biopic about the acclaimed dance choreographer Alvin Ailey, while most recently he has produced a TV series adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad for Amazon Prime Video.
The sequel will continue with the photo-realistic technology employed so successfully by Favreau in the 2019 film and 2016’s The Jungle Book and Jeff Nathanson, who wrote the 2019 film, will also write the new script.
It's unclear when The Lion King 2 will go into production or when it is scheduled for release.
You can sign up to Disney Plus for £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year. You can also buy The Lion King The Gift Deluxe edition now.